Believe it or not, tons of motorists travel the road without even knowing that their license was suspended.
Sometimes this is because the driver fails to notify the NJ MVC of an address change.
When this happens, the NJ MVC sends a letter notifying you about the suspension, but it goes to an old address they have on file and you never end up getting the letter.
Other times, mail gets accidentally thrown away or lost.
If you are aware that your license was suspended, do not drive! Driving while suspended in NJ is extremely serious and costly.
Be sure to hire an experienced NJ traffic ticket lawyer to help you fight the charge.
Driving While Suspended Basics
In New Jersey, there are two types of driver’s license suspensions:
- Court Imposed
- Administrative (NJ MVC Suspension)
According to NJSA 39:3-40, if you were refused a driver’s license or your driving privileges were suspended or revoked, it is unlawful for you to operate a motor vehicle during the period of refusal, suspension, or revocation. (This law also applies if your vehicle registration was revoked.)
Put simply, you will be punished harshly if you continue to drive after having your license suspended.
This might seem like a no-brainer. After all, who would drive when they know they got suspended?
Unfortunately, most people ticketed for this are not aware of their suspension.
Imagine driving down the Garden State Parkway and being pulled over by a trooper who tells you that your tail light was out.
When he comes back to your side window, he issues you two tickets and begins yelling at you for driving while suspended.
Meanwhile, you never even knew your license was taken away!
This happens far too often and a skilled traffic ticket attorney can help you avoid the negative consequences that go along with a conviction.
Penalties for Driving While Suspended
Regardless of whether you knew or did not know that you were suspended, you can still get convicted.
If convicted, you will be forced to pay a $500 fine as well as a mandatory surcharge of $250 per year for 3 years.
Aside from $1,250 in fines and surcharges, your auto insurance will go through the roof and your carrier could even drop you.
Also, the court could extend your suspension by up to 6 months.
If you are convicted a second time, the fine shoots up to $750 and you face up to 5 days in jail (in addition to the $750 surcharge and auto insurance consequences).
A third conviction results in a $1,000 fine and up to 10 days in jail (above and beyond the $750 surcharge and auto insurance consequences).
However, if your driving resulted in personal injury to another person––even if it was your first offense––you will face jail time for a minimum of 45 days.
Lastly, a conviction will remain permanently on your driving record. This could be a disaster if you are a CDL driver.
What the State Has to Prove to Convict You
In order for you to be convicted of driving while suspended, the prosecutor needs to have at least four pieces of evidence.
First, he or she needs to produce your driving abstract.
Second, he needs to enter into evidence the notice of proposed suspension that was supposedly mailed to you.
Next, he needs to produce an Order of suspension proving that you were actually suspended.
Lastly, he needs to show through either a mailing list or notice that the suspension was court ordered.
After the prosecutor does all of that, he or she must prove that you: 1) personally operated the vehicle and 2) there was an administrative suspension (imposed by the NJ MVC) or a court ordered suspension (imposed by a judge) issued against you.
How to Beat Your Driving While Suspended Charge
There are several strategies that a NJ traffic ticket lawyer will use to help beat your driving while suspended charge.
One of these strategies is arguing that you were not adequately notified of your suspension.
Solid New Jersey case law exists to help your attorney make this argument.
For example, in State v. Wenof, 102 N.J. Super. (Law Div. 1968), the court emphasized the centrality of providing adequate notice of a license suspension.
In that case, the court set out a test for determining what counts as “adequate” notice. The test is whether the notice is “reasonably calculated to reach the intended party” (e.g. the driver).
Similarly, in State v. Hammond, 116 N.J. Super. 244 (Cty. Ct. 1971) the court used the same bright-line test to determine adequacy. However, unlike in Wenof, the driver was actually exonerated due to the insufficiency of notice.
Also, under State v. Kindler, 191 N.J. Super. 358, 360 (Law Div 1983), the notice given must be written (not merely told to you orally). Otherwise, it will not be valid.
Lastly, if the State does not charge you within 90 days from the date of the alleged offense, you can usually get out of the ticket based on a statute of limitations defense.
Be careful! If your driving privileges were suspended in another state but you hold a NJ driver’s license, you can still be charged with driving while suspended in New Jersey.
Likewise, you will still be considered “suspended” until you officially pay your license restoration fee. This applies for both in-state and out-of-state suspensions.
That means you can face driving while suspended charges even after your suspension period is over unless you officially paid the restoration feel.
Who Should You Contact?
If you recently received a traffic ticket for driving while suspended in New Jersey (NJSA 39:3-40), contact Michael Botton of The Botton Law Firm today at 732-894-3686. His team of NJ traffic ticket attorneys have years of experience fighting traffic tickets, negotiating with prosecutors, and reducing traffic violations.